14×18″ landscape painting on canvas, this painting captures a bygone era in Cuba, when it was occupied by the US up until the 50s. The train is a symbol of both oppression and the potential wealth of the country, which has been painfully stifled under embargoes since the revolution that freed the people from colonial rule.
It has the feeling of almost blinding brilliance, an intensely bright energy… in its sun-drenched scenery and rich blue sky. To me this represents how blinding politics based on resource extraction can be, especially colonial and neoliberal. The promise of wealth glitters and shines in our minds (us on the outside), and we easily forget what is at stake.
This early 20th century American train is beautiful to me against the Cuban sky, but it also carries a sadness, a heaviness… for knowing the Spanish Colonial eradication of the Native People of Cuba, and now for the continued oppression of it’s people today, many of whom are descendants of slaves to Spanish imperialism. They chose to throw off yet another colonial rule (American), and continue to suffer impoverishment by design via world sanctions, in a rich land, in culture and beauty and inestimable value.
But… perhaps this has saved Cuba from the new political model, called neoliberalism (vague, isn’t it), that has ensured the insecurity and impoverishment of most of Latin America. I do not wish to justify or somehow valorize their poverty, but I do admire the integrity of Cuba in placing the health and wellbeing of its people above its economy, which is exactly where it needs to be… rather than surrendering to the superpowers of the West to ensure the wealth of the few…
See other JK landscape work here.
The inspiration for my works like these came originally from a trip I took to Cuba at Christmas in 2016. When it’s grey and wet in Vancouver, these brilliant blue skies are a nice memory, and Cuban history is definitely food for thought. I wonder how people nowadays interpret world sanctions on this Hispanic and Black population…